Dressed up spectacularly in 70’s garb, KONG: SKULL ISLAND does more with its setting than its characters and suffers greatly for it. But kudos to the movie, since it knows what it wants to be and does it damn well. The action in this movie is absolutely stellar and visually stunning, which is surprising as it is directed by a second-time feature director. Jordan Vogt-Roberts directed THE KINGS OF SUMMER, which I was finally able to catch the other night, and I enjoyed that coming-of-age film that had a lot of heart, but the humor just didn’t work. It was a quiet, grounded movie, in great contrast to his second go around. KONG is bombastic, fast-paced and should be a requirement to see in theaters, especially for its incredibly beautiful cinematography.

I would be willing to spend the money to see this in 70mm IMAX if it weren’t for the bland and unrelatable characters. For all those who don’t know, Brie Larson has been known as Bae Larson for the past few years, but this is just some awful work done by her. I’m going to blame it on the horrible script for Brie’s stumbles here, especially since it requires characters spewing exposition so inorganically that it hurts to sit through some scenes. The awkward humor brings the film to a standstill at times, but also works like gangbusters. The men in KONG revel in trying to out-machismo each other, and pretty much all of them don’t have a character arc or don’t change throughout the runtime. Sure, someone doesn’t have to change his morals or decision making process by the end of a movie, but that type of character work is a journey in and of itself. None of the people here do that, and it’s frustrating to not be able to relate to any of them. When you can’t follow or care about the characters who are supposed to be audience surrogates, it’s hard to care about the action going on.

But in the end, this was made in the vein of a PACIFIC RIM or something like that, where they focus on the monster. Now that this is leading to KONG VS GODZILLA (that isn’t a spoiler, since this news has been around for years), this is just an introduction to the character of Kong in this universe, and it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see any of these characters again, since this takes place in 1973, while GODZILLA (2014) took place in the year it came out. There was so much potential with the aesthetic and caliber of actors here, but the spotlight was on Kong, and my goodness, he did not disappoint.

rating: why did i watch this?

(Refer to my rating system here!)